Liberal leader defends candidate’s burqa comments

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has confessed to finding the burqa “confronting” while defending Liberal candidate Ray King for describing the Islamic attire as a “sign of oppression”.

Asked whether he supported the statements by Mr King, who drew a link between the burqa and criminality at a fund-raiser, Mr Abbott admitted he found it “a very confronting attire. “Frankly, it’s not the sort of attire that I would like to see widespread in our streets,” Mr Abbott told reporters on Saturday, while campaigning in Queensland.

Mr King, the former Liverpool police commander standing against Treasurer Chris Bowen in the western Sydney seat of McMahon, urged an end to Muslim women wearing the burqa. He also drew a link between the burqa and criminality at the $300-a-head fund-raiser in Smithfield in May, where guests included the disgraced former detective Roger Rogerson, according to an attendee.

Despite expressing concern about the burqa, Mr Abbott said people were “entitled to make their choice” to wear the Islamic attire. He defended Mr King as having an “unblemished record”.

Mr King was the subject of a complaint to the Community Relations Commission in 2011 over allegedly racist remarks he made at a “meet and greet” with migrant representatives.

The Age, 31 August 2013